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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Uttarakhand floods: Google 'Person Finder' to trace missing people

PTI  Mumbai, June 21, 2013
First Published: 11:59 IST(21/6/2013) | Last Updated: 12:03 IST(21/6/2013)

Search engine giant Google has launched an application “Person Finder” to offer information on missing people in flood-affected areas in the country, including Uttarakhand.

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Google Person Finder is a web application that allows individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by a disaster, Google said in a blogpost.

“Since last week, the state of Uttarakhand in India has been grappling with severe floods. Given that most of these areas in the state are highly inaccessible with intermittent communication, Google Crisis team bring you the Person Finder,” the blog post by Jayanth Mysore, Google APAC Senior Product Manager, said.

The Google tool helped find people in the devastating tsunami in Japan in 2011 and also during the recent Bostom Marathon bombings. Google Person Finder is a project of the Google Crisis Response division of Google.org, built by Google engineers in response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti to help those affected by the earthquake.

The tool can help trace the missing people in flood-affected regions of Uttarakhand and is available in Hindi and English, it added.

All data entered into Google Person Finder is available to the public and searchable by anyone.

The programme also lets press agencies, non-governmental agencies and others contribute to the database and receive updates by using the Person Finder API based on the PFIF open standard.

Flash floods and landslides triggered by the monsoon fury left over 150 dead in calamity-hit Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, while thousands of pilgrims and locals are being rescued from various districts, including Rudraprayag and Chamoli.

50,000 people are still said to be stranded in various parts of Uttarakhand that was hit by cloudburst and floods. The calamity has ruined thousands of homes, rest houses and buildings.

The official death toll still stood at 150, but Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the casualties could run into several hundreds which will be known only when areas become accessible and water recedes.

The state government’s disaster mitigation and management centre had in the morning said that the causalities could run into thousands with about 90 dharamshalas (rest houses for pilgrims) swept away in the flash floods.


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